Back it up a little…they were asking me what my thoughts were on Family Ministry. I paused, only briefly, (this was almost nine years ago) and then I answered. “You know, I really don’t know”. Perhaps not the best answer for an interview, but it was exactly where I was at in the process. I loved their follow up phrase, which turned out to be more of an admission than an answer “We’re not sure what it is either (family ministry), and we have one (a family pastor).” Thank goodness we are further along than this!
Perspective check…I have been doing kidmin for 24 years now. The family ministry phenomenon had come around just shortly on the heels of the “what in the world is this pre-teen / tween thing! (Back then the initial conversation was centered more around what to call it than what it really was).
My good friend Gregg Johnson @ J12 discovered what I consider an incredible model for the tween phenomenon. Jesus at twelve. After all Jesus was one at one time – a tween! Jesus first recorded words in scripture were, “I must be about my father’s business,” at age twelve in the temple. Gregg took the time to question, explore and imagine what this verse means and as a result has developed a model for tween ministry in the spirit of Jesus at twelve, which is sweeping the nation. It was a process, and a worthwhile one.
One weakness of our fast food culture is we want answers now, or at least a GPS to direct us to the bottom line. Better yet, an app. We are not real comfortable with asking questions or process. But I am convinced that God wants and allows us the liberty to explore and discover inside his word. He is confident in our failing forward, which helps move us forward. We can often learn more through the process than if we were simply handed the answers. The tweenager thing was not a surprise to God, and family ministry isn’t either. Jesus was part of one – a family.
When we realize this we can extrapolate a lot of Jesus family upbringing based on Jewish family, culture and tradition. We can explore and imagine what the creator of the universe would have been like as a son and a sibling. What did his mom and dad do for and with him to guide and direct him spiritually? They were coming from the temple, weren’t they? What was life like with his brothers and sisters?
The scandal of particularity (God entering time in a certain race, point in time, limitations, the incarnation etc.) places him into a traditional nuclear family. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think it is dynamic! It is both a picture of what family ministry can be as well as a representation of how we are to be in the family of God as well. There are tons of implications here if only we take the time to explore them, ask questions and learn to apply our discoveries inside our own individual ministry contexts.
Technology and social media have launched a dynamism that has allowed us all to share, interact and learn together. Ministry models have become foundations for conversations, which have given us confidence to diversify, tweak and create hybrids, increasing ministry and ministry effectiveness across the country – family ministry included. This blog tour is an excellent example of this. However I find that the strength here is not in defining what family ministry is, the real strength lies in the dynamic relationships we can develop out of this conversation, as well as the exchange of ideas, and the sparking / birth of new ideas.
What family ministry is, is better found in asking, “What are you doing to help reach, strengthen and partner with families?” Exploring, engaging and interacting with others allows us to realize we are not alone, we all have something to contribute, and we are all called to the same task at hand. I don’t think anyone has a corner on this market. We all have a something to contribute!
Iron sharpens iron only when it comes together on angles. We all sharpen each other as we share about family ministry from our own ministry perspectives. As we interact and explore what each of us is doing we can all learn, grow, explore and implement. I am engaged in such conversations already with others as we seek to see what a Sunday morning family service would really look like (no kids church for perhaps one of our morning services). What family small groups would look like throughout the week (AWANA @ Home)? What a streamed service would look like for families (online services for the family). And how a family VBS would revolutionize our community (EPIC Family VBS, or FAM JAM). I believe the answers for this and other family ministry potential lies in our collective communication.
I really don’t think there is one definition, but many!